Helping women focus on their holistic health needs
Being a woman these days may feel like a full-time juggling act. Between things like growing your career, navigating care for a child or aging parent, or struggling to find a better work-life balance, it may be difficult to carve out time to take care of yourself.
Women tend to make a majority of the health care decisions for their families and yet, according to one survey, put themselves last behind children, significant others, senior relatives and even pets. However, as the saying goes, you can’t take care of others, if you don’t first take care of yourself.
This is especially true when it comes to health issues facing women today.
Research shows women are twice as likely to struggle with mental health issues than men, such as anxiety disorders, panic disorders and some forms of depression. However, women are less likely to seek a diagnosis or treatment, due to a number of factors including stigma.
On top of that, nearly half of American women responding to a recent survey said in the last year, they skipped a preventive health care appointment, such as an annual checkup, vaccine or recommended screening — and yet, women often have higher rates of chronic illness.
“Trying to keep up with everything on your plate is truly a balancing act,” said Dr. Lisa Saul, chief medical officer of women’s health for UnitedHealthcare Employer & Individual. “But women do have unique health needs that can’t be ignored. Prioritizing your own health and well-being is crucial to keeping everyone around you healthier.”
If you’re tasked with choosing your health care benefits for the coming year for yourself and your family, there are a few things that you should consider to help make sure your needs are met.
Choosing a plan that helps keep your health needs in mind
When it comes to your mental health, simply finding the time to schedule an appointment may feel stressful. But there are ways to help address your concerns, efficiently from the comfort of your home.
These days, many health plans may offer virtual mental health resources. This helps give you a way to meet with a therapist or psychiatrist through a virtual visit or find support through online apps that may be included in your plan. That may include meditation tools, mood tracking and more.
Prioritizing physical fitness
Physical activity is one of the most important things you can do for your health. However, more than 60% of women in the U.S. do not engage in the recommended amount of physical activity — and 25% of U.S. women are not active at all.
Some of the benefits of physical activity on women’s health include:
- Reducing the risk of coronary heart disease, which women are at greater risk for than men
- Reducing the risk of other chronic conditions, such as high blood pressure, colon cancer and diabetes
- Helps control weight, build muscle and reduce body fat
- Helps reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression, and improves overall mental well-being
If extra motivation is what you need, some health plans may offer incentives to help encourage staying active. You may also have other fitness or wellness program offerings included in your benefits to consider.
Family planning support
If you’re looking to grow your family in the next year, you may want to look for health benefits that include things like prenatal and postnatal support or even adoption and surrogacy resources.
It’s also important to consider how your health plan covers labor and delivery, and to make sure your providers are in-network. For example, some plans, like SurestTM, help provide upfront pricing for hundreds of services, including maternity delivery care.
Keeping those mental health offerings in mind is also helpful for family planning. In fact, 1 in 7 mothers experience postpartum depression the year after giving birth. Perinatal mood and anxiety disorders are also common and often go undiagnosed. Understanding what resources your health plan offers may help you feel more supported in your journey.
Most women spend more than a third of their lives in peri- or post-menopause. As you approach this stage, you may be managing the different stages of menopause, which can affect women’s health in various ways.
Beyond seeing a regular primary care physician to help you manage your overall health, look for a gynecologist who is in your network to discuss what menopause may look like for you, as they may be the best expert on how to manage symptoms or plan for what’s next.
Someone who specializes in women’s health can also help you understand when you’re due for certain preventive care, like mammograms, colonoscopies and cervical cancer screenings — as well as how to assess your risks. It may be helpful to know which recommended screenings you need each year, to help you choose the plan that works best.
No matter what stage of life you’re in, there’s a lot to consider when choosing your benefits. Finding a health plan that helps you prioritize your own well-being may help ensure you’re feeling your best and able to tackle all that life throws your way.